Getting back to the surface had been easy with no fiends attacking, but it had been annoying with Leblanc gushing over Nooj the entire time. Tara and Faith had to hold Willow and Buffy up front to keep them from attacking Leblanc. With the path they'd taken blocked by a rather large pillar they had taken the closest path, and ended up in the Bevelle Underground.
For just a few minutes everyone stood in Vegnagun's chamber and looked around. With the giant machina now completely taken apart and left on the Farplane, the chamber felt somehow safer. Baralai took the lead and led the group through a shortcut back to the temple.
Once outside Buffy spoke into the receiver telling Dawn to pick them up just outside of Bevelle. Hearing Leblanc telling Nooj she wanted to ride the airship back to Guadosalam caused the girls eyes to widen. Willow picked Tara up and ran toward the Macalania Entrance with Buffy behind her carrying Faith over her shoulder.
Dawn sat the airship down just as the girls ran into the clearing and lowered the cargo door. Buffy closed the door and dropped Faith before heading to the bridge.
"We made something for ya!" Mizu smirked when they entered. "Here!" she threw a light pink sphere to Tara.
When the light died down Tara was standing there in the same Moogle costume she'd wore in Luca, causing everyone to giggle. Sighing she shook her head. "You made it into a Dressphere?"
"Yeah!" Dawn shouted excitedly. "Buffy, catch!"
Tara was glad the Moogle costume was muffled her voice, since she couldn't help but laugh with Willow and Faith. Buffy was standing in a black and white cat costume, a small golden crown on its head, with a red scarf and red boots. Turning she saw her reflection in the glass and screamed taking the head off, and glaring at Dawn.
"I am not wearing this!"
"Aww, but its so cute! We call it Cait Sith."
"I don't care what you call it, I'm still not wearing it. And you! Quit laughing at me!" She said glaring at Faith.
"Whatever. Anyway, here Willow." Dawn said tossing a sphere to Willow.
"What am I wearing?" Willow asked turning to look at the others, only getting laughter in reply. Sighing she turned toward the window to see her reflection, and groaned. She was wearing a Tonberry costume; its dark green body, light green robe and yellow eyes were staring back at her. "I'm with Buffy, I'm not wearing this."
"Oh, come on, Will! You both look so cute!" Faith laughed as a sphere was put in her hand.
Yellow light lit up the bridge, when it died down; Tara held the head of her costume in place as she doubled over laughing. Buffy dropped the head of her costume, as Willow's fell off.
"What?" Faith asked and looked at her reflection, only to see a chocobo staring back at her. "Why is there a chocobo on the ship?"
"That's you." Shinra giggled.
"What!?" Faith screamed taking the head off and looked down at the yellow bird costume. "What the hell?! I am not wearing this! No way!"
"Aww, but Faith, you look so cute!" Willow said throwing Faith's words back at her between laughs.
"Do ya what me to start plucking?" Buffy smirked.
"Oh shut up." Faith said and waddled to a chair.
Laying the spheres down on the table caused the costumes to disappear and the girls to sigh in relief. A green glow caught Willow's attention, turning to look she saw the last five Cactuar Spheres glowing. Picking up two of them she turned toward the others.
"Hey, they're all glowing. This one says: Areq and Arroja - Calm Lands... this one says the same." She said holding the second sphere up.
"Islaya - Thunder Plains." Buffy said holding the third as Faith and Tara picked the last two up.
"Eria - Gagazet." Faith said reading the sphere. "Tara, what's yours?"
"Frailea - Macalania Spring."
Glancing around Tara nodded and started for the cargo door, stepping outside the girls followed the path to the spring. Willow smiled remembering her and Tara's first kiss in that very spring, and watched Tara touch the water with the sphere. The cactuar appeared flipped twice and disappeared.
Hurrying back to the ship they told Dawn to head for the Calm Lands, then to Gagazet. Landing near the entrance to Gagazet Willow touched the Areq and Arroja spheres to the ground and watched the cactuars appear and disappear. Buffy took her sphere and touched the entrance to Gagazet and smiled when the cactuar appeared and chattered before he vanished.
Back inside the ship the girls waited in the cargo hold for Dawn to land in the Thunder Plains, five minutes later Faith released the last cactuar, and ran back to the ship. The alarm went off when they entered the bridge, and watched Mizu's screen slid up showing Nhadala.
"The fiends are attacking the Cactuar Nation! Please tell me you've found the cactuars."
At hearing that Dawn raised the ship into the air and shot off toward Bikanel pushing the ship to its limits.
"We just released the last one." Tara said and saw an explosion in the background. "Are you guys all right?"
"For now. We're keeping the fiends away from the camp. Hold on, I'm going to patch Benzo though." She said as an image of the Cactuar Nation popped up.
Black and gray snake like fiends were rising out of the sand all around the hollow trying to break through the barrier. "Those aren't your everyday fiends." Buffy said seeing the foot and a half long fangs, and diamond shaped head on the fiends.
"Benzo, you okay?" Willow asked as the barrier broke allowing the fiends to enter. Marnela shook as a bright green light surrounded the cacti. She leaned back then forward, and then straight up as a shockwave shot out in a circle killing the fiends. Benzo was on his knees covering his head with his arms as the dust settled, showing hundreds of dead fiends before they disappeared.
"I'm fine," He said standing, and watched, as the ten gatekeepers appeared in a circle as more fiends invaded the area. The cactuar began to glow as a fifty-foot tall cactuar appeared in the center of the circle glowing bight green. A thunderous boom was heard as a much larger shockwave was sent out from the giant cactuar cutting the link.
"Benzo!" Shinra shouted and looked toward Dawn "Hurry! You must hurry!"
"I'm going top speed." Dawn replied and shook her head. "Hold on to something! I am going to try 'Hyper-drive'"
Willow grabbed Tara, just as Faith grabbed Buffy and strapped into their seats as Dawn pressed a purple button. For a split second the ship stalled in mid-flight before it shot off again faster than before, anyone looking up into the sky only saw a red blur pass by. The engines were beginning to whine loudly, as they were sent into overload to move the ship faster. It only took ten minutes to reach the desert, and Dawn to curse when a red light blinked.
"What? What is it?" Buffy asked not caring at that moment what her younger sister said.
"The engines are burning up!"
"Oh, shit!" Buffy said watching Dawn press the purple button again slowing the ship down over the Al Bhed camp. When the ship landed she cut the engines, grabbed Mizu, and ran toward the engine room. When the four girls and one boy stepped outside they were in the middle of a war. Half dead fiends lying beside the bodies of Al Bhed men and woman, some were either already dead, or dieing.
Willow and Faith ran forward cutting down any fiend in their way, as Tara cast healing spells, and Buffy handed out Potions.
"I'm glad you're here!" Nhadala said limping over. "There's a huge fiend coming this way, and with my men and women hurt we can't deal with it."
"We'll take care of it!" Faith said severing the head off of another snake fiend, and fell to her knees along with everyone else as the ground shook. Looking south they saw the sand flying into the air and a huge cloud of dust to circling a large object in the middle. A loud shriek echoed around the desert making the fiends dive into the sand. Willow stood and gripped her sword as the giant fiend topped the dune. Angra Mainyu had just joined the battle.
The green and orange glow from the two bodies on the left and right caused Willow and Buffy to stop in their tracks. Willow jumped to the left avoiding the poison cloud, and cast a Flare spell, Buffy dodged to the right avoiding the Berserk spell, and threw a Winter Storm mix. The two bodies went limp leaving only the middle body to deal with.
Faith ran forward glowing light blue and cast Ice Breath, four large blocks of Ice fell from the sky hitting the middle body. Angra Mainyu roared and cast its own spell reviving the left and right bodies. Tara fired Holy infused rounds into the left body and could only watch, as the right body poisoned Willow and Faith. Willow doublecast another Flare spell before falling to the ground, Faith severed the hands off the right body before she fell beside Willow.
Tara holstered a pistol and cast Esuna on the fallen girls and heard Buffy scream before she, too, fell to the ground, blood running down her side. Casting a Cura spell Tara didn't notice the middle body casting its own spell. The Thunder spell hit Tara throwing her back fifteen-foot, unconscious, with her pistol five-foot away. Willow stood glowing bright blue, and cast seven Flare spells on the giant fiend, before running over to Tara.
Buffy and Faith attacked head on, using Firestorm, Winter Storm, and Burning Soul mixes, and weapons. The two side bodies again fell limp giving Faith the opportunity jump between them and slice at the middle body, as Buffy threw a Soul Stealer mix. She gaped when the mix did nothing more than caused the Angra Mainyu to get angry, and cast a Waterga spell on her.
Willow poured a Phoenix Down in Tara's mouth and then a Hi-Potion to heal any wounds she might have. When Tara opened her eyes, she smiled and took her pistol from Willow and stood. With one pistol now infused with Flare magic and the other with Holy magic Tara began to fire again. The fiend began to cast a reviving spell on the two bodies but was stopped when Willow severed the head of the right body, and Faith severed the left body's head.
Another Ice Breath spell from Faith, a Winter Storm mix, nine rounds from Tara's pistols, and Willow doublecasting Flare spells, the fiend crashed to the ground. Trying for one last spell the fiend cast Demi causing the girls to get thrown back, as the fiend disappeared.
Buffy stood up with blood running down the side of her face, and held her left arm close to her body, as she looked around. Faith cried out when she tried to stand, only to fall back down, looking at her leg, she could see the bone sticking out of her calf.
Willow was holding her right arm to her chest, as she used her left to gently remove her left boot, and sock. The throbbing pain in her foot was driving her nuts, examining it she could see the skin was a blackish purple color, and groaned. Tara, like Buffy only had a small wound on her forehead, and ran to Willow.
Looking up Willow gave her a small but painful smile. "Right arm is broken, and so is my left ankle." She said and saw Buffy approach. "How're you and Faith?"
"I'm fine, but my shoulder is dislocated, and Faith has a bone sticking out of her leg. You?"
"Arm and ankle."
"Let me see your arm, Buffy." Tara said and took her left hand. "This will hurt."
"Go for it." Buffy said and cried out when Tara jerked her arm back into place, and cast a healing spell. "Thanks. Now I'd better reset Faith's leg." She said and hurried off.
Taking Willow's arm Tara reset the bone, and hurried to reset her ankle. Willow gritted her teeth and fell unconscious from the pain. She woke up ten minutes later completely healed, and with Tara's help stood, and saw Faith being helped up by Buffy.
"Thank you. We would have all been dead had it not been for you." Nhadala said approaching.
"Thanks." Tara smiled.
"But... look at the camp." Buffy sighed.
"What a disaster." Willow lowered her head.
"Don't worry about it. This is nothing compared to what happened to Home. And besides, what's done is done."
"Hey! I smell something good!" Buffy said sniffing the air, and watched as an Al Bhed man drove by on a hover.
"Lusa yht kad ed!" (Come and get it!) He shouted laughing.
"Food?" Faith asked unbelieving.
"Yeah! We whipped it up during your battle. As long as we're still kicking, we're gonna get hungry, right? So come on, and eat!" Nhadala said and led the girls to the food and laughed when she saw Dawn, and Mizu already there.
An hour later the girls were stuffed and stood thanking Nhadala, before asking where Benzo and Shinra were.
"They both are at Cactuar Nation." Nhadala said and shoved the hover driver from his seat. "Take them out there!"
Cactuar Nation was much the same except for some damage to the ground, and fallen rocks from an uncovered rock wall. They saw both young boys kneeling down in the center of the hollow, and approached.
"Marnela?" Tara asked when she saw the three-inch tall remains of the cacti.
"She used all her power to stop the fiends."
"I'm so sorry, Benzo. So... I guess she's gone, now."
"No. Look! She's right here." Benzo said and pointed to a very small cactus growing from the remains. "She may be small now, but give her time, and she'll grow. Then we'll have a new Marnela!" He said happily.
"I don't get it." Buffy cocked her head to the right. "Marnela's gone, but she'll grow bigger and become a new Marnela... Huh? And what?"
"I thought you knew. 'Marnela' is the Cactuar word for 'Grandma' so, yes she'll grow into a new one."
"Okay... If you say so." Faith said shaking her head.
"Well then, we look forward to meeting her again someday." Tara smiled.
"Right!" Benzo nodded taking Shinra's hand and leading everyone back to the hover.